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tv   CBS Evening News With Katie Couric  CBS  March 9, 2010 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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harrowing tale. and on tape as it all unfolded on a 911 call. his 2008 prius was one of more than three million toyotas recalled because the floor mats could somethat that the gas pedal, but he says the dealership told him his car was not part of that recall. ben tracy is in san diego county tonight and, ben, understandably this is one very angry driver. >> reporter: katie, you're very right about that. he came to the dealership today and told them he won't ever be driving that prius again. now the federal government is involved. they want to know what caused the car to speed out of control. the now-infamous runaway prius was hauled back to the dealership this morning. its driver, 61-year-old real estate agent jim sikes still shaken by monday's wild ride. >> i was laying on the brakes. it was not slowing down. >> reporter: in the now-released 911 call sikes made from his prius, you can hear the fear in his voice. >> my car, i can't slow it down. >> you can't slow it down?
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>> no. >> and your accelerator is stuck? >> i tried to pull... yeah, yeah. i've tried to pull it back. >> reporter: sikes says he was driving along a winding stretch of interstate 8 near san diego when his gas pedal stuck, rocketing his car forward. >> is there a way for you to take the car out of gear? >> i can't hold the [no audio] up. i don't want to go over the side. >> i was reaching down trying to pull on the gas he pe dahl and get it back. it didn't move at all. it was stationary. >> reporter: as the car sped along at up to 94 miles per hour, a california highway patrol car drove alongside sikes telling him to simultaneously put his foot on the brake pedal and push the emergency brake. that slowed the car down to about 50 miles per hour. sikes then kept pressing the off button and the prius eventually stopped as the patrol car pulled in front of it. >> when i saw him, i could smell the brakes, i smelled his brake lights coming on. >> reporter: the 2008 prius involved in monday's incident was part of toyota's earlier recall involving floor mats that could trap gas pedals.
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but sikes says hid floor mats had nothing do with it. >> the fact that it seems like a new problem in a very important model, that's an even bigger deal. >> reporter: an even bigger deal because there are already a reported 52 fatalities and 38 injuries involving unintended acceleration in toyota vehicles since 2000. 89 class action lawsuits have been filed against the company and the associated press estimates that could cost toyota more than $3 billion. meanwhile, the company continues to dispute critics who say the problem could be in the car's computer systems. today toyota told us "we have yet to find any evidence of an electronic glitch. if we could find something wrong we would fix it and be done with it." jim sikes says there is one thing he's done with. >> i love toyotas. i will not drive a prius again. >> reporter: now the investigation begins. the department of transportation is sending two inspectors here to look at the prius and toyota says they'll do their own investigation. >> couric: ben tracy, ben, thanks so much for the report.
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here in new york today the final chapter that dominated the tabloids for weeks, the david letterman extortion case involving a cbs news producer ended with a guilty plea and an apology. jeff glor now with the latest. >> reporter: leaving court after his plea plea, joe halderman said he was sorry. >> i apologize to mr. letterman, his family, to stephanie birkitt her family, and certainly to my friends and family. >> reporter: moments earlier, a longer statement inside in which the former cbs news producer admitted he tried to extort $2 million from david letterman last september by threatening to sell a sensational screenplay detailing letterman's behind the scenes affairs with staffers. >> i have had sex with women who work for me on this show. >> reporter: the case prompted that extraordinary admission from letterman last october who had been involved with halderman's ex, stephanie birkitt, a "late show" employee.
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the initial charges could have sent halderman away for 15 years. today's plea to attempted second degree grand larceny will get him six months, plus five year's probation and a thousand hours of community service. prosecutors when it was over praised letterman for not giving in to the defendant's extortion demands for millions of dollars. instead taking the courageous step of reporting the crime. >> this is a serious sentence that properly reflects the crimes that mr. halderman has not admitted he committed and it's a fitting end to the case. >> reporter: halderman will be sentenced on may 4 and with good behavior that six-month sentence might mean as little as four months behind bars. jeff glor, cbs news, new york. >> couric: now to the battle over health care reform and the push for a house vote by the end of next week. emotions are running high on both sides of the debate and in washington today, angry protestors targeted the insurance industry. here's nancy cordes.
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>> health care now! >> reporter: supporters of health care reform descended not on the capitol or the white house today... >> what do we want? >> health care! >> reporter: but washington's ritz-carlton hotel where executives from the nation's largest insurance companies were holding an annual conference. 11-year-old marcelas owens flew fear seattle. >> no other kid should go through the thing that our family has gone through. >> reporter: his mother tiffany lost her job and the health insurance that went with it after a prolonged illness caused her to miss work. she stopped going to the doctor and died at 27 of pulmonary hypertension. >> she ended up passing away because she didn't have the equal rights to health care as some people with more money. >> reporter: inside the ritz, attendees were well aware of the anger directed their way. >> we're never going to have a rational system in this country if we continue the way we are now. >> reporter: the protestors were taking a page from the president
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who has made insurers public enemy number one sdpchlt we can't have a system that works better for the insurance companies than it does for the american people. >> reporter: now insurers are pushing back. >> health insurance companies costs are only 4% of all health care spending. >> reporter: they point out that the average profit margin for health plans is just over 3% compared to nearly 19% for drug companies. they argue it's not their greed that's driving premiums up but sharp increases in the cost of hospital stays, outpatient surgery, emergency room visits and specialty drugs. >> you know, just this whole notion of find a villain, aim the rhetoric and go after them. but that doesn't get anybody covered. >> reporter: but for anxious democrats, health insurers made for an easy target, especially when they jack up rates by 20% or even 40%, katie. >> couric: nancy cordes reporting from capitol hill. nancy, thank you. from health care reform to retirement security. if your nest egg is invested in
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stocks, you'll want to know the dow closed up more than 11 points today. it was exactly a year ago that stocks hit a 12-year low, deal ago 401(k)-o to a lot of retirement accounts. since then, though, a remarkable comeback. the market's up 61%. but as anthony mason tells us, you had to be in it to win it. >> reporter: stocks have staged one of their greatest rallies in history, but millions of investors have missed it. >> we don't see any increased activity from the public. >> reporter: ted weisberg has thousands of clients at seaport securities, but they haven't been pouring money back into stocks. >> the activity level is the same today as it was a year ago and yet the market has rallied 4 points from the low. >> reporter: in fact, investors have pulled $40 billion out of u.s. stock funds since the start of last year. on the floor of the new york stock exchange, the panic of a year ago has been replaced by caution.
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it's estimated that more than $3 trillion of investors' cash is just sitting it out on the sidelines. >> everything is so volatile. it's unpredictable, it's uncertain. >> reporter: with her 401(k) down 22%, the kim proescholdt, who works in marketing for a california hospital, has taken a more active role in investing her money. >> every hard-earned dollar i make i want to know that it's going someplace that's safe. >> reporter: so she's moved into other investments like bonds. do you think there's been a fundamental shift in attitude towards stocks after this? >> well, you know, that's what we're concerned about because we have not seen the average investor get back into this market yet. >> reporter: even with the rally, the dow is still down 25% from its all-time high in 2007. ted weisberg says investors saw the economy have a near-death experience. >> they're still scared and i don't know what it will take to change that. >> reporter: most of all, it could tame time, maybe years,
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before investors are comfortable again with the risks in the stock market. katie? >> couric: meanwhile, a report out today shows that 25% of americans have decided to put off retirement. that's a staggering number. >> reporter: it is and it's because their 401(k)s have taken a hit, home prices from v plepl meted but here's the really scary part of this, katie, 43% of americans in that survey say they've put away less than $10 for retirement and more than a quarter say they've put away less than a thousand dollars in savings. all of this, the putting off of retirement, means a tight job market is going to get tighter. >> couric: anthony mason. anthony, thank you. now we want to take you back to president barack obama's state of the union address as members of the supreme court looked on, he criticized their decision that allows corporations and unions to spend freely on political ads for or against a specific candidate. today, chief justice john roberts said he has no problem with anyone criticizing the court. the issue, he said, is the setting. roberts said the state of the union has "denigrate grated to a
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political pep rally" and he questioned whether thes should even attend in the future. coming up next here on the "cbs evening news," where america stands on green technology. why china is taking the lead and how the u.s. can catch up. and to eat run.. whatever happens to be around. heavy greasy food that's hard on my diet... and my digestive system. so i eat activia light every day. activia light, with bifidus regularis is clinically proven to help regulate your digestive system. mmmm. the new taste is better than ever. and with only 70 calories activia light helps make it easier to watch my weight. it helps me feel good and look good too! ♪ activia! when you least expect it... a regular moment can become romantic. and when it does, men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis. with two clinically proven dosing options, you can choose
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another title: leader in pollution-fighting green technology. right now chinese are way out in front, so what will the u.s. need do to come seat in celia hatton continues our series "cbs reports: where america stands." >> reporter: the wind turbine slicing the sky above rural minnesota were manufactured more than 6,000 miles away by a chinese company. now they're helping the power the nearby town of pipestone. >> the wind is blowing nearly all the time, we should take advantage of it. >> reporter: china has a dirty reputation as the world's factory, but its emerging green energy sector is threatening to leave the united states in its dust. the overall environmental report card's not pretty for either country. china is the world's top producer of greenhouse gases, the u.s. is a close second followed by russia, india, and japan. china burns mountains of coal, the dirtiest form of energy for 70% of its power, consuming 2.5
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billion tons each year. 23% of america's energy also comes from cole, using 1.2 billion tons annually. the u.s. population is less than a quarter of the size of china's but americans consume almost six times more energy per person than the chinese. china also guzzles almost eight million barrels of oil daily-- 8% of the world's total. while americans burn through 19.5 million barrels, or 21%. america's oil use has been declining since 2007 while china getting thirstier. oil consumption is up 5% a year. modern life-styles are on the rise here, demanding vast amounts of electricity and that's why chinese authorities are hungry for renewable energy, to keep china's people satisfied and the economy humming. so chinese leaders were r investing heavily in green sectors like wind and solar, and that's where experts say china scores an "a." >> the nation that leads the
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clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy and america must be that nation. >> reporter: like it or not, china's the country cashing in on the green revolution, and that's a problem for america. >> we're going to end up using those technologies on a very large scale. the question is whether we're producing them or whether we end up having to buy them from the chinese or others because we didn't get our act together. >> reporter: china has become the number-one exporter of solar panels, supplying 29% of the world's $13.7 billion market while the u.s. trails at 6%. chinese manufacturers also dominate the market in ecoproducts, from electric bikes and solar hot water heaters to mass-produced electric cars. in a few years, china is also expected to become the top exporter of wind turbines and a a major user of them, too. all this activity is putting food on the table for workers like 37-year-old wang meiqiu. her hometown, the city of baoding was once a decaying
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factory zone. but with major state backing, it's being reborn into an unlikely ecohub, boasting 29,000 new jobs, including one for wang as a solar panel inspector. >> ( translated ): this is fixing our unemployment problem. >> reporter: here, the u.s. faces a huge disadvantage. the average factory worker in china costs the company 81 cents an hour to employ compared to an average of $29.98 an hour for a worker in the u.s. even after taking china's low cost of living into account, it's a difference america can't match. so what solution will allow the united states to catch up to china? many say in the short term america needs to encourage joint ventures between the u.s. and china, bringing the renewable energy costs down for everyone. in the long term, experts say u.s. government policies should build on america's strengths: technological innovation and highly efficient manufacturing to compete with china's
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unbeatable wages. ken ames is the c.e.o. of seesmart, his vista, california, company makes cutting-edge l.e.d. lightbulbs in shenzhen, china. ames said he'd relocate all his production state side if he could break through washington's red tape. >> it's going to have to be grants available, readily available for companies like us that are going to bring the jobs bring the technology. >> reporter: analysts stay obama administration is committed to clean energy, investing $80 billion in stimulus funding in hopes of fostering $150 billion in new projects. that, cup coupled with old-fashioned american inge. >> couric:ty could help the u.s. embrace what chinese entrepreneurs already know: that it's possible to get rich by going green. a move that just might make the planet healthier, too. celia hatton, cbs news, beijing. >> couric: and for all the stories in this series in partnership with "u.s.a. today," you can go to and
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santiago, chile, shifting 11 inches west/southwest, and the biggest deaffect was in concepcion, near the epicenter. the quake moved the entire city ten feet to the west. nothing, meanwhile, is moving on a colorado highway closed down by a giant rock slide. workers have been blasting apart the bolders that tumbled yesterday on to interstate 70 in glenwood, canyon. while the work goes on, the shortest detour for drivers takes them 200 miles out of their way. most people would gladly take a detour to avoid this: a tornado that touched down yesterday in hammond, oklahoma, but not the pair of storm chasers who shot this video. they tracked the twister as it closed in on them and wrecked five homes and a barn. fortunately, no one was hurt. a spin on the dance floor provided a memorable moment at president obama's inauguration. today the first lady donated her famous gown to the smithsonian. the beaded white chiffon dress
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by young designer jason wu will be included in the museum's first lady's exhibit. mrs. obama hadn't seen the gown since that big night and today the memories came rushing back. >> i'll never forget the moment that i slipped on this beautiful gown. i remember how just luscious i felt as the president and i were announced on to the stage for the first of many dances. and i'll cherish that moment for the rest of my life. fewer pills than extra strength tylenol. just 2 aleve have the strength to relieve arthritis pain all day.
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>> couric: finally tonight, they put their lives on the line during world war ii, now more than six decades later their heroisim in the congress spit finally getting the recognition it deserves. david martin reports on the fly girls. >> reporter: when old war pilots get together, somebody always calls it a gathering of eagles. not today, this is a gathering of wasps. that's wasp as in women's air force service pilots. as in the first women to fly military aircraft. >> i flew the b-17. >> that's b-17 as in the plane that bombed germany to its knees. >> the flying fortress. >> reporter: dawn seymour was one of 1,100 women who volunteered to fly during world war ii. they never saw combat, but they
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flew just about every other kind of mission. >> i flew gunners on their training missions to learn how to fire the 50 caliber machine guns from a moving platform of a moving target. >> reporter: now they are finally getting their moment in the sun. ceremonies leading up to tomorrow's presentation of the congressional gold medal for stepping forward at a desperate time. >> by 1942 we were in a tough spot in the war. we needed all the personnel that we could get flying. >> reporter: air crews were flying into the teeth of german defenses and going down almost as fast as they could be trained. >> so you bring women in to do the job, just as we brought rosie the riveter in to work in the factories riveting the airplanes together. you bring women in to fly the planes so the men can fly combat overseas. >> reporter: rosie the riveter became a national icon. while everyone forgot about the wasps. except women like lieutenant colonel nicole malachowski, who became the first female member of the air force thunderbirds. >> when i made the decision to become an air force fighter
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pilot, a lot of people told me it's not something you can do but i was able to look to the story of the wasps and realize women can do it. >> reporter: the years have whittled them down to a fragile few hundred, but talk to delores lam and you know she had the right stuff. >> i loved to fly and i was 18 and i just couldn't stand not being able to fly in a military airplane. >> reporter: but 38 of them were killed in crashes. now we know who they were and what they did. david martin, cbs news, at the air force memorial. >> couric: and congratulations to all of them. that is the "cbs evening news." i'm katie couric. thanks for watching. i'll see you tomorrow. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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how the stars celebrate oscar afterhours? this is "entertainment tonight." they were outside. only we were in inside. what you haven't seen from our "vanity fair" exclusive. the dancing stars. the famous friend and sandra's beef with the mother she played. >> you couldn't say anything? her fast-food fix with jesse mo'nique's


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